Policy Developments

California has long been a leader in innovative energy and climate policies—from the creation of the Los Angeles Air Pollution Control District in 1947 to the passage of the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) in 2006 and the 2018 commitment to transition to 100 percent clean energy sources by 2045 (SB 100). The state has led the way as an early adopter of a clean energy future, implementing policies to reduce pollution, improve energy efficiency, and incentivize clean energy and clean technology innovation that have been replicated in both other states and nations. To meet its climate goals moving forward, California will need to build upon this foundation with policies that tackle harder-to-reach emissions reductions, including those from the transportation sector and buildings.

While the events of this year—including the COVID-19 pandemic and another unprecedented wildfire season—have taken center stage in terms of policy priorities, these challenges have also created a new sense of urgency around environmental policy. As the world has been forced to understand and address the links between public health, the environment, and the economy, there has been a marked increase in commitment to address climate change. The current federal administration worked to roll back the nation’s climate progress, but the incoming administration has made clear its intention to prioritize global cooperation and accelerate the transition to a sustainable clean energy economy. As California and the nation look ahead to prospects for policies that help strengthen our economy while protecting our environment, it is worth highlighting how far the state has come. The policies in the subsequent timeline reflect decades of collaboration and innovation to address climate and pollution concerns while simultaneously developing one of the world’s largest economies.

California Policy Timeline

  • Air & Environment

  • Energy Efficiency

  • Clean Transportation

  • Renewable Energy

  • Climate

  • 1st in U.S.

  • United States Policy

  • September 2019

    California—plus 22 other states, Washington D.C., and the cities of Los Angeles and New York—sue the U.S. Department of Transportation over the revocation of the state’s waiver that allows California to set its own GHG and auto emissions requirements under the Clean Air Act

    California passes legislation requiring the Air Resources Board to adopt and implement regulations for a Heavy-Duty Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance program for non-gasoline, heavy-duty, on-road vehicles (SB 210)

  • October 2019

    To support resiliency during a deenergizing event, a law is passed requiring the CPUC to allocate a certain percent of the self-generation incentive program (SGIP) funding to projects that install community energy storage systems and associated renewable energy resources in high fire threat communities (AB 1144)

  • March 2020

    The Trump administration finalizes new fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles and light trucks, loosening the Obama-era requirements that manufacturers increase fuel economy between 2021 and 2026 in order to reduce emissions

  • June 2020

    The California Air Resources Board adopts the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, the first statewide zero-emission commercial truck standard requiring that manufacturers sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission trucks in California from 2024 to 2035 and requiring 100% zero-emission truck sales in the state by 2045

  • August 2020

    The California Air Resources Board approves the Omnibus Low-NOx Rule requiring NOx emissions from heavy-duty trucks to be cut to approximately 75% below current standards beginning in 2024 and 90% below current standards in 2027

  • September 2020

    California legislature passes bill directing the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to complete a California-specific climate assessment no less frequently than every five years to assess the impacts and risks of climate change and identify potential solutions to inform policy (SB 1320)

    Governor Newsom signs an Executive Order (N-79-20) directing the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations to mandate that 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035

    Governor Newsom announces the creation of the California Climate Action Corps, the nation’s first statewide corps dedicated supporting climate action projects

  • October 2020

    Governor Newsom issues a new Executive Order (N-82-20) committing to increase carbon sequestration in the state’s natural and working lands, and establishing the first-in-the-nation goal to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal water by 2030

    The California Energy Commission approves a $384 million plan for clean transportation investments to boost the adoption of zero-emission cars and trucks by closing the gaps in zero-emission fuels and infrastructure